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Multi-faceted diplomacy for Li's 1st foreign trip

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-16 21:43

BEIJING - During his first international trip as a government head, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will pay official visits to India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany from May 19 to 27.

"Li's visit is an important diplomatic activity of the new Chinese government toward neighboring countries and Europe," Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao said at a press briefing on Thursday.

Starting with India and Pakistan, the arrangement of Li's trip shows the great importance the new government has attached to relations with the two close neighbors, said Song.

With Asia's status rising on the global stage, it is important for China and India to increase political mutual trust, deepen pragmatic cooperation and enhance coordination in international and regional affairs, said the vice minister.

During his visit to India, Li will meet with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He will also deliver a keynote speech on China-India relations and attend the China-India Business Cooperation Summit, Song said.

Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Yaoping said the two sides are planning to sign a number of documents on economic and trade cooperation.

A trade and investment promotion group will also visit India during the same period, said Jiang.

"China hopes the upcoming visit will cement the bilateral strategic cooperative partnership and beef up cooperation in mutual investment, trade and infrastructure," said Song.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce, the bilateral trade volume reached $66.5 billion in 2012.

"At such a growth rate, the two sides are expected to hit the designated target of $100 billion on schedule," Jiang said, referring to the bilateral trade volume goal for 2015.

Li's visit to Pakistan will come just as Pakistan has recently concluded its general election, which is "a sign of the high level of mutual trust and the special friendship between the two countries," said Song.

He said China hopes the upcoming visit will send positive signals to the people of both countries and the international community that China values its relations with Pakistan and is committed to inheriting the traditional friendship and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides.

During his visit to Pakistan, Li will meet with President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and meet with Pakistani leaders from the country's parliament, political parties and military, including Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

On Tuesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced election results for 254 National Assembly seats, with PML-N taking a majority 123 seats.

"China is glad to see that Pakistan's general election has been held smoothly," Song said, adding that China respects the choice of the people of Pakistan.

As an all-weather partner, China will continue to firmly support Pakistan's efforts to maintain stability and seek development, he said.

"We are convinced that through joint efforts, the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will be lifted to a new level," he added.

During Li's visit to Pakistan, the two sides are scheduled to sign three intergovernmental deals on economic and trade cooperation, and China's trade and investment promotion group will also visit the country.

As developed countries, Switzerland and Germany are important economic and trade partners for China in Europe. China and the two European nations are economically complementary, said Song.

China's huge market has provided great business opportunities for Switzerland and Germany, while Europe's advanced technologies will help China in achieving its economic transformation.

During his visit to Switzerland, Premier Li will meet with President of the Confederation Ueli Maurer, Vice-President of the Confederation Didier Burkhalter and Head of Federal Department of Economic Affairs Johann Schneider-Ammann.

"Li's visit to Switzerland will push forward bilateral ties and make bilateral cooperation a model of friendly exchanges between countries with different social systems," said Song.

According to Song, the two sides will sign a series of cooperation documents involving the economy and trade, finance, education, culture and climate change.

Last week, China and Switzerland launched the ninth round of negotiations on a free trade agreement.

The two sides have narrowed their trade differences in goods, the service trade, rules of origin, trade facilitation, intellectual property and competition policy, said Jiang.

He said the two sides have made their intentions to end the talks clear, and both hope to reach a mutually beneficial and high-quality agreement as soon as possible.

"China-Germany relations are at the forefront of China-Europe relations, featuring the most frequent high-level contacts and the most effective dialogue mechanisms," said Song.

The high quality of bilateral ties has benefited from the strategic vision and political courage of both countries' leaders, he noted.

In Germany, Premier Li will meet with President Joachim Gauck and hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. He will deliver a speech at a business luncheon and have extensive contact with people from the political and business communities.

Li and Merkel will also officially launch "the year of languages" between China and Germany, an initiative meant to promote the study of each other's languages among the people of the two countries, said Song.

The bilateral trade volume reached $161.13 billion in 2012, accounting for 29.5 percent of China-EU trade, said Jiang.

To further expand bilateral cooperation, a series of documents will be signed regarding cooperation in manufacturing, investment, finance and urbanization, said Song.

The German side has attached great importance to Li's visit, said Song, adding that he believes the visit will build a sound working and personal relationship between Li and Merkel and further advance the development of bilateral ties.

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